For over a year, I have been a President of alumni association, which has been great experience.
Being a person who is heavily involved in social media, life can be a very solitary existence and the decisions I make are solely my own, (I think I talk more to my laptop than people most days).
As President, you are not only using your creative thoughts to initiate ideas, but as I quickly learned through trial and error to be an effective leaders, the decisions that you make are not based on oneself, but what is best for the group.
However, the one thing social media and leadership have in common is the ability to listen.
As a social media practitioner, your constantly listening to your audience by reading comments and having conversations on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
In leadership, you have to listen to your fellow members and committees to make effective decisions.
Earlier this year, I used the online survey website SurveyMonkey to find out what was working and not working with our alumni association.
For anyone looking to do research for an organization, blog or personal branding, online surveys like SurveyMonkey , Zoomerang and PollDaddy are great ways to get feedback, (the only down side with SurveyMonkey is that you can only ask ten questions with the free version).
One of the questions I asked the alumni was “How do you find out about our events?”
The resulting were interesting:
Word of Mouth 22.9%
As great as social media is, email and word of mouth still leads the way when it came to our members receiving information.
Another telling question was “How often do you check our LinkedIn or Facebook Page?”
31.6% of respondents said they hardly checked our Facebook or LinkedIn page, while another 18.4% said they were not connected to any social networks.
However, even though 50% of our members did not use our social media platforms to receive information, our events were still very well attended.
This is not to say that social networks are not important
In 2008, when I started using social media professionally, there were very few people I knew who were on Facebook. In fact, when I tried to tell people about Twitter, some people thought I was talking about the Tweety bird cartoon!?!
However in 2011, a good chunk of my high school graduating class and their grandparents are now using Facebook and the numbers of Twitter and LinkedIn has grown greatly since 2008.
Social networks breaks downs walls that were previously unbreakable (i.e. the Middle East uprising ) and it is arguably the most cost effective way to connect with people.
Yet, I still have friends and family who remain digitally unconnected, (which at times is refreshing when you don’t hear a person say “Facebook Me!”)
For anyone involved with social networks, remember that you are connecting with a niche audience.
There are still many people out here who still receive their information from various channels that doesn’t involve a password, so when you send out information, make sure you use online and offline channels.
However, as people become even more connected online, it will be interesting to see how they will receive their information 10 years from now; and for leaders, what channels will they use to effectively connect with their people in the future?
(* Where do you get your information? Is it email or social networks? How do you get information to people who are not connected?